Our training story
Other, April 07, 2017
We believe in some key elements that a cyclist should work on. Several of them would surprise you.
Our Training Story
We want to give you some clarity about what you can find at The Cycling Gym Online and the thinking that lies behind our articles and videos. The topics we cover aren't random but are part of a continuous dialogue about training and how to get the most out of it. The ideas may be unconventional, or outside of the norms of training discussion on the internet, but rest assured that all of them have been experienced, tested and applied either at the gym or within our own coaching businesses.
Things we believe in
- That to become a better cyclist you need to improve your aerobic system. The ability to ride for extended periods of time at a medium intensity, with only minor variation in perceived exertion, is what sets some riders apart. It is why pros are pro, they can ride all day and not get tired. Whereas the rest of us, when asked to push a steady effort for a while, end up finding it gets harder and harder until we can't go anymore. If your aerobic system is good you can ride at a manageable pace to the climb of the day and then still have plenty of energy left to bang out a good ascent.
- Too much threshold is a bad thing. Over the last ten years there has been a paradigm shift around training. Everyone seems to think that you have to train hard all the time to get better. Club rides have become races and every workout a "sufferfest". But too much threshold training doesn't make you better, it just makes you tired. We believe in intervals and threshold training, but the workload needs to be managed. Too many riders are digging themselves into a hole, not improving, and not enjoying their time on the bike.
- VO2 work is important. VO2 work plays an important part in our training philosophy. If you are new to the sport this is probably where you will start training. If you have been riding for longer then VO2 work is how you will hone your fitness. But, as mentioned when talking about threshold work, it has to be used properly.
- Endurance is king. This is particularly true for riders that have been riding a long time and can push decent wattage. Riding here is what can help you make some real gains. Doing it properly can keep you from burning out.
- Strength and mobility are important. Most of us aren't professional cyclists. Sacrificing our well-being, as professional athletes do, to achieve cycling success is silly. And it isn't necessary. Maintaining your strength and mobility by incorporating strength training into your regime will help you be a better cyclist. It will also keep you healthy and allow you to do the riding that you love for longer.
Better by paying attention
A lot of people think that cycling is about simply getting on the bike and pedalling. Dig a little deeper though and you'll soon see that there are a lot of things you can work on to improve your riding and efficiency on the bike that are often overlooked.
- Respiration. This is a big one that no one really talks about. Paying attention to your breathing can make a noticeable difference in your riding. We talk about the quality of the respiration, the depth and frequency at which a rider breaths.Maintaining the quality of your breathing as your effort increases means that you are doing a good job of delivering oxygen to your muscles. Muscles need oxygen to contract so the better you deliver oxygen the better your riding. Hence a focus on respiration.
- Athleticism. Cyclists don't think of themselves as athletes. This is a mistake. At The Cycling Gym we believe in the advantages a rider can experience by being more "athletic". This is why we incorporate strength into our training at the gym. Co-ordination, balance, body awareness, and physical resilience all make for a better rider.
- Pedalling technique. Pedal properly and you will be much more efficient on the bike. It is as simple as that. Don't believe in the old school pedal in a circle technique, that isn't how the best riders pedal. Keep your heels up and focus on pushing down.
- Bike handling. Many riders these days are trainer fit. They can push some amazing watts because they have dedicated themselves to their training, spending hours indoors honing their fitness. Once they get outdoors though they can't put it to good use. Cycling is about more than sheer strength. On a mountain bike technique makes a huge difference, allowing one rider to roll away from another with minimal effort. Out on the road it is less obvious, but over time the better bike handler is able to manage their efforts in the group more efficiently and so save energy for the finale. And on the road not only do you need to have good bike handling but you better understand how drafting works and where the wind is coming from.
- Proper bike fit. Too many riders are riding around out there with their saddles too low. That is because the typical bike fit at the local bike shop fits the bike to the rider's current state of mobility. This is wrong. The rider and bike need to integrate, and an important part of that is improving the rider's mobility. Better mobility means a higher saddle height, more comfort and a more efficient cycling position.